Efficient air conditioner unit for window offers low-cost cooling

CUT UTILITY BILLS

August 07, 1993|By Gene Austin | Gene Austin,Knight-Ridder News Service

Q: I need a new super-efficient room air conditioner that is quiet and cools without drafts. What features should I look for, and does it make sense to use one even if I have central air-conditioning?

A: New super-efficient window air conditioners have many energy-saving and comfort features. With the higher internal insulation levels, efficient motors and airtight construction, they are also very quiet.

The highest-efficiency window air conditioners have an Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) of 12.0. Small models cost less than 4 cents per hour used and are lightweight enough that you can easily move them from window to window.

This is twice as efficient as some models made five years ago. These models also provide better air distribution and temperature control, both important for energy savings and comfort. To realize the maximum savings, it is imperative that you select the proper-size model for your room.

One new model has motorized oscillating louvers to distribute the air evenly throughout your room. You can switch them off to direct the cool air to one location. This feature reduces drafts and noise by allowing you to choose a slower blower speed and still feel comfortable.

More blower speeds are better. A super-efficient window model should have at least three speeds, and some have five speeds. The low speed is extremely quiet. Manually adjustable four-way or six-way directional air-flow louvers are effective. You can aim each set in a different direction.

Another energy-saving and sound-reducing option switches the blower off when the compressor stops. This is especially useful at night in a bedroom when the cooling needs are lower. Although the air distribution is not as even as with a continuous blower, it is quieter and saves electricity.

Other models use heat anticipator thermostats, similar to that on your central wall-mounted thermostat. This anticipates the room temperature changes and minimizes temperature swings.

Even if you have central air-conditioning, it makes sense to install a window unit in the most used room or perhaps a bedroom. This allows you to set your central thermostat higher and save 10 percent to 20 percent. A typical older 3-ton central air conditioner can increase your electric bills by 46 cents for each hour the compressor is running.

You can write to me for "Utility Bills Update No. 536" listing super-efficient (EER above 10.0) window air conditioner brands, model numbers, cooling outputs, EERs; and features, specifications and prices on the most efficient models; and a detailed do-it-yourself work sheet to determine the proper size unit for your home. Include $1.50 and a self-addressed, business-size envelope.

Q: I recently installed an efficient insulated steel front door on my house. How can I install a deadbolt in a steel door? I have installed them in wood doors before.

A: You install the deadbolt in an insulated steel door the same way as in a wood door. Most insulated steel doors have a wood frame and wood reinforcement around the lock-set holes. Foam insulation panels are either fitted inside or the foam is injected under pressure.

You will have to use a hole saw made to cut sheet metal. A standard wood hole saw will not be effective. Since many steel doors have magnetic weatherstripping, carefully position the hole in the jamb so that the door contacts the weatherstripping when you close and lock it.

Questions should be addressed to James Dulley, c/o Baltimore Sun, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45244.

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